The Ted Smith Conservation Internship Program started in 2000. Since that time, more than 300 talented individuals from Alaska and across the country have participated in this life-changing opportunity, and as envisioned, many are now making their mark on the movement. Read how the program has impacted former interns, their career paths and ultimately, Alaska’s natural environment and the ways of life it sustains.
Lee House first came to Alaska from Massachusetts in 2015 when he was placed as a video-storytelling intern for Southeast Alaska Conservation Council in Juneau. In the following summer of 2016, Lee worked his second season as in intern in Sitka for Sitka Conservation Society doing video, photography, and digital media work. Lee has since become a full-time resident of Alaska working as a Design Director and Field Producer for Element Agency an Anchorage/Sitka-based creative firm providing Alaska businesses and organizations with design, visual strategy, and storytelling content. Lee and his team have worked with organizations such as AMCC (Catch 49), Sitka Conservation Society, The Salmon Project, Alaska Humanities Forum, Spruce Root Community Development, Inuit Circumpolar Council, and Alaska Conservation Foundation. When not consumed by creatively engaging projects for one of the many beloved Alaska clients, Lee is plucking about in the mountains that surround him in his current home of Sitka. (Contributed August 2018)
Samarys proudly hails from Puerto Rico. In 2009, she was placed at Alaska Community Action on Toxics, where she worked with residents of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea who are suffering with serious health problems due to toxic pollution left behind by the military years ago. We’re gratified to report that today, while she completes her doctorate degree, Samarys is still at ACAT where she now not only directs their Environmental Health Program but is one of the lead scientists continuing to collaborate with the residents of St. Lawrence Island as they fight for their health and cultural survival. (Contributed April 2016)
Ben Jones arrived at Cook Inletkeeper in Homer from Ohio in the summer of 2005 where he assisted with water quality monitoring. Ben credits the Conservation Internship Program with not only setting him on his career path, but his life path. Immediately following his placement, he started working at the Alaska Science Center—U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage where he still works today conducting research on how the Arctic is responding over time to climate change related events like permafrost thaw, fire and erosion. Ben also went on to get his PhD from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. (Contributed March 2016)
Jenna Hertz first came to Alaska from Michigan in the summer of 2009. Lured by its mystique, she accepted a Conservation Internship at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center in Fairbanks where she worked to raise awareness about the continued importance of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That experience was more than she had hoped for – she met amazing people who loved Alaska and worked hard to show it. After that first summer, she was hooked by Alaska’s beauty and heeded the calling to stay and help protect it and the ways of life it sustains. ACF is pleased to report that Jenna is still in Alaska today and now serving as Program Director for the Tanana Valley Watershed Association, a group working to preserve the Fairbanks region’s natural environment. Jenna is extremely grateful for the opportunity she was afforded through the Conservation Internship Program. She says of her time in Alaska: “Meeting people here has profoundly impacted my life in the way I want to live and the way to make a difference.” (Contributed September 2014)